Meeta Rani Jha, The Global Beauty Industry, Colorism, Racism, and the National Body. September 7, 2015, Routledge, 2015, 134 pages, $24.95, Paperback. In this review I will summarize the content of the book briefly covering the key points, give my opinion of it, detail how the book ties into the themes of the class unit and last but not least tell who I would recommend this book to.
This book investigated the second-wave feminist protests and history of feminisms. Focused on ideas of beauty as capital, to demonstrate why beauty is a commodity exchanged for class mobility and influencing women’s life chances and opportunities. It also explores the history of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to emphasize the importance of Black Is Beautiful as one of the most significant anti-racist challenges to the dominant white beauty. The book had focuses on the expansion of capitalism to India and the resulting whitening of beauty norms affecting Indian women’s lives which involved four key themes: economic transformation of the Indian nation, globalization of beauty pageants, expansion of the middle class resulting in consumer capitalism, and the role of capitalism and media in skin-color discrimination. The last key point made were the reasons for popularity of cosmetic surgery in China. First reason is the experimentation with neoliberal economic policies and participation in transnational consumer culture. A second reason is that beauty, sexuality, and femininity are constructed as crucial components of neoliberal feminine subjectivity.
This book is a stack of racial justice. I enjoyed reading this book because of the perspective that Meeta Jha took while writing this book. She was both righteous but yet informational at the same time. You really get a sense of how complex the world truly is and see the disastrous mistake it would be for anyone to try and mirror the entire globe to reflect all one image consistently throughout. Her choice of using India, China and the U.S. as points of comparison was genius for using three culturally unique and separate societies to entail how Eurocentric whiteness has negatively affected women in those countries and exposes the harmful implications these practices impose on women. I like the way Jha use works from other feminist theorists to support her work and the clarity she conveys while writing.
This book connects to Unit 6 in class by describing differences between western civilizations and other civilizations across the globe. For example this quote from blackelectorate.com’s article The Thong Vs. The Veil “We wondered at the end of the day, of the two groups of women most prominently featured on American TV these days, who gains more respect for their intellect and spirit – the Afghan woman who is so totally veiled that you can’t even see her eyes or the Black woman in the R&B and Hip-Hop video who dances while wearing a bikini and thong? Is less more?” The quote is discussing the respect level among the black woman who is depicted through bias American media or the Afghan woman who is forced by cultural and religious norms to completely cover their bodies from head to toe. Meeta Jha’ book talks about issues like these in her book. Meeta talks about how white superiority creates ideals of whiteness, where the lighter your skin is the better it is perceived from a moral, beauty and biological aspect and the darker your skin is the more demoralized and less beautiful you are considered to be. Another way Meet Jha’s book connects to the unit is how the influence of white supremacy in bringing about whiteness as the objective of beauty is teaching self-hatred among darker complexions. A lot of third world and developing countries women are underpaid like in Dayna Evans’s article Women Making $70 Feminist Shirts in Factory Paid Under a Dollar an Hour from the unit material. Those same women being underpaid to make commodities worth 70 times what they are paid are the same type of women Meeta Jha discussed are being sold consumer products that push whiteness as the definition of beauty which contradicts the darker skin women’s physical being. Jha illustrated how this perpetuates an unattainable goal of beauty for anyone not white. Meeta Jha also explained how class structures are affected by this because lower class and working class women who wish to escape the bondage of working or wish to marry into a higher class cannot do so because the whiteness standard of beauty and perfection is unattainable by women of color no matter how many beauty products are consumed.
In conclusion I like the content this book contained. Meeta Jha did an excellent job of portraying her viewpoints and information. I would recommend this book to people of color because of the many oppressions they may face in this world and reading this book will open eyes to the true face of beauty which is not any specific color or shape but instead a complex model based upon differentiating culture values and beliefs. More specifically I would recommend this book to my mother and sister who would appreciate the theories and beliefs that uplifts all races and ethnicities individuals that Meeta Jha instills into this book.